US Department of State commented on the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the occupied Crimea with the statement that Crimea is Ukraine, and assured that the United States will not stop sanctions against Russia. This was reported by the press service of the State Department.
It was noted that four years ago this week, Russia held an illegitimate, fabricated “referendum” in Ukraine in a futile attempt to legitimize its purported annexation of Ukrainian territory. Crimean residents were compelled to vote under scrutiny by heavily armed Russian troops. Russia’s claim that Ukrainians made a free choice in that sham “referendum” has always lacked credibility.
In light of Putin’s remarks, it is important to call attention to the illegitimacy of the staged “referendum,” but also to the tremendous human costs the Russian government has imposed on the people of Crimea. Over the past four years, Russia has engaged in a campaign of coercion and violence, targeting anyone opposed to its attempted annexation. Russian occupation authorities have subjected Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians, pro-Ukrainian activists, civil society members, and independent journalists to politically motivated prosecution and ongoing repression, while methodically suppressing nongovernmental organizations and independent media outlets.
“We reaffirm our commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. Crimea is part of Ukraine and our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine,” the message says.
As it was reported earlier Petro Poroshenko, the President of Ukraine claimed the today's visit of Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia to annexed Crimea a provocation. He claimed this at the joint briefing with Alexander Van der Bellen, the President of Austria.
The election of the president of Russia will take place on March 18, 2018. The Central Election Commission registered eight candidates, including Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Ksenia Sobchak and Grigory Yavlinsky.